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Cecil H. Green, Texas Instruments Co-Founder and Honorary Knight of the British Empire, Leaves Legacy of Philanthropic Works

Apr 12, 2003

A Tribute to Cecil Green (PDF 1.4MB)

Cecil H. Green Biography

DALLAS (April 12, 2003) -- Cecil Howard Green, one of the original founders of Texas Instruments and a renowned philanthropist benefiting education, arts and culture, died today at age 102 in La Jolla, California.

"Cecil's leadership helped shape the very foundation of Texas Instruments - respect for people, ethics in business, and the strong belief that we need to give back to our community. He was a visionary who understood the critical need for excellence in education and planted the seeds for a legacy that is still in existence at TI today," said Tom Engibous, Chairman, President and CEO of Texas Instruments.

"With incredible foresight, Cecil and his wife, Ida, strengthened the teaching and research capabilities of institutions around the world. Millions of students and alumni throughout the years have benefited from their generosity."

Mr. Green was made an Honorary Knight of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991, in recognition of his lifetime of giving.

The Road to the Oil Patch
Mr. Green's life is the story of an uncommon journey, from nomadic, uncertain early years, to becoming internationally recognized as one of the world's leading philanthropists.

Born in Whitefield, a suburb of Manchester, England, on August 6, 1900, Mr. Green and his family migrated to Nova Scotia, Toronto and San Francisco. There, as a witness to the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, young Cecil received his first lesson in geophysics.

"We finally made it out of the building with whatever personal belongings we could carry and weren't allowed back in. Like thousands of others, we wound up in Golden Gate Park, living in a tent. We watched the whole city burn. It was a terrible thing. There was martial law. I can still remember a soldier breaking a store window to get me a pair of shoes," Mr. Green said in a 1982 interview.

The family finally settled in Vancouver, British Columbia, where Mr. Green remained until he went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning both bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering.

In 1923, while working on his master's thesis at the General Electric Research Center in Schenectady, New York, he met his wife-to-be and partner in philanthropy, Ida Flansburgh. They were married 60 years until Ida's death in 1986.

The couple crisscrossed the country five times, making their home in auto camps and tents, as Mr. Green searched for a challenging career. More than once, he and Ida slept on a pull-down bed, ate off an orange crate and made do with $15 a month. During this time, he worked as an engineer for various electronics companies. He unsuccessfully tried to start a business selling neon signs in Canada. And he answered a number of disappointing want ads for jobs selling everything from insurance to automobile equipment.

But once Mr. Green found a niche in geophysical exploration, everything fell into place. In 1930, the Greens moved to Oklahoma where Cecil accepted a job from Eugene McDermott as chief of a seismographic field crew for the newly organized Geophysical Service Inc. (GSI)

"It took me six years to figure out what I wanted to do," Mr. Green said in a 1983 interview. "The geophysical exploration business offered a happy combination of technology and people."

Founded in May 1930 in Dallas, Texas, GSI was one of the first independent prospecting companies established to perform reflection seismic exploration for petroleum. GSI's name changed in 1939 to Coronado Corporation, with GSI becoming an oil exploration subsidiary of the company.

Founding Texas Instruments
In 1941, Mr. Green and three partners -- J. Erik Jonsson, Eugene McDermott and H.B. Peacock -- bought GSI when they heard the owners planned to sell the oil production unit.

Mr. Green borrowed money, took out a mortgage, committed his and Ida's insurance policies as collateral and scraped together everything they owned to pay his share. The deal went through on December 6, 1941, the day before Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Under the leadership of Mr. Green and his team, which by he end of the decade included Pat Haggerty, GSI became a geophysical exploration service leader. But it was the electronics work begun during World War II that was to make important technology history. In 1951, the company's name changed to Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI), and GSI became a wholly owned subsidiary of TI.

Mr. Green served as vice president (1941-1951), president (1951-1955) and chairman of GSI (1955-1959). He also served as vice president and director of Texas Instruments and in 1976 was named honorary director of the company.

Today, Texas Instruments is the world's leading designer and supplier of digital signal processing and analog technologies, the engines driving the Internet age. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, TI is an $8.4 billion company with more than 34,000 employees worldwide.

Championing Education
Internationally recognized as an engineer, geophysicist, philanthropist, photographer and bibliophile, he devoted his energies to cultivating the human mind. The generosity of Cecil and Ida is evident throughout Dallas and beyond, with their names gracing buildings, facilities, programs and professorships at numerous institutions. Since 1950, Cecil and Ida Green have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to universities and schools around the world, making an indelible mark on scientific and medical education. Mr. Green's giving was especially striking because of its magnitude and diversity. He never picked just one level of education, but supported a broad spectrum from kindergarten to post-doctoral studies.

While Mr. Green's philanthropy stretches from Australia to British Columbia, England and Canada, much of his giving has been to Texas institutions, co-founding the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, which became the University of Texas at Dallas in 1969. Other Texas educational beneficiaries include Southern Methodist University, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Children's Medical Center of Dallas, St. Mark's School of Texas, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and Austin College in Sherman, Texas.

In 1965, Green established the Texas Association of Graduate Education and Research, also known as TAGER. It was one of the first distance learning networks in the world and was a source of collegiate education for thousands of engineers in North Texas. In 1996, he participated in the opening of the TI Founders IMAX Theater at The Science Place in Dallas.

Beyond Texas, Mr. Green's giving has extended to some of the world's most prestigious universities, including establishing the Green College at Oxford. In addition, his gifts have enhanced the University of British Columbia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his alma maters, as well as Stanford University, the Colorado School of Mines, the University of California San Diego and The University of Sydney.

In a 1982 interview, Mr. Green noted, "Intelligent giving is not easy. In fact, Ida and I have discovered that lots of time, effort and thought are necessary to make sure that our giving would have a multiplying effect by triggering new and healthy growth in relation to the finally selected project. All of this adds up to the ultimate and rewarding result -- that our giving has been virtual investments in pleasure and satisfaction."

In Recognition of Leadership
Mr. Green has been honored widely. He and his wife were cited as top humanitarians and civic contributors when they received the coveted Linz Award in Dallas in 1974, the first couple to receive it jointly. In 1973, the University of Texas system presented Mr. Green with its exclusive Santa Rita Award in recognition of his concern for and support of higher education.

A comprehensive documentation of his outstanding contributions to science and industry was produced by the National Academy of Sciences in 1978. Mr. and Mrs. Green were recognized with an unprecedented international tribute for their creative and visionary philanthropy that had a positive effect on the lives of thousands of young people throughout the world.

He was also recognized as Philanthropist of the Year in Dallas and San Diego, in 1987 and 1988, respectively. In addition, he held a long and impressive list of honorary degrees from institutions including Southern Methodist University, the University of British Columbia and the University of Sydney in Australia, with the most recent being a Doctor of Humane Letters in 1990 from the University of Southern California.

Of his many honors, Mr. Green's most unique was his being appointed Honorary Knight of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1991. Queen Elizabeth II honored Mr. Green as an educational philanthropist for his contribution toward the establishment of Green College at Oxford University in 1979. Green College was the 39th college at Oxford University and the first to be built at Oxford in 200 years.

In a program from An International Tribute to Cecil and Ida Green by the National Academy of Sciences, the Green's longtime friend, Professor Emeritus Robert R. Shrock of MIT wrote of the couple's generosity:

"To think seriously of giving to help others is commendable; to give is the essence of humanness and nobility; to give generously and with deep purpose is the greatest act of all because it requires thought, effort and discrimination of the highest order."